Jiu Jitsu Times EXCLUSIVE Interview: Joey Bozik

For anyone who doesn’t know, Joey Bozik is a triple amputee veteran.  He joined the military in early 2001 and was stationed at Ft Bragg with the 118th Military Police Company (ABN).  He was deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq and was injured on October 27, 2004 when his humvee rolled over an IED. It left him with two leg amputations and one arm amputation.  Oh, by the way, Joey trains jiu jitsu and competes in competitions against able bodied competitors.


Anyone who trains knows that aches, pains, breaks and strains make excuse making very easy, but Joey doesn’t do that, rather he is trying through his training regimen to make jiu jitsu work for him.  I had a chance to chat with him about his experience as a jiujiteiro.

Joey currently trains with fellow military veteran Alan Shebaro at Tier 1 Training Facility located at 320 Industrial Blvd Suite 206 in McKinney, TX 75069. “Training was initially difficult because the movements were foreign to me. However Alan is very open minded and watched me move around on the mat and said ‘We can definitely work technique.’”

It’s fairly obvious that many if not most jiu jitsu techniques require use of one’s limbs to properly be performed, but Joey is finding ways to apply those techniques with what he has available to him “Basically we are creating a new style of jiu jitsu by modifying existing techniques to meet my physical capabilities.  Things like one arm chokes, takedown variations, ankle locks from all positions… Things like that.”

Perhaps the most inspirational aspect of Joey’s jiu jitsu journey is that he puts it on the line and competes against people with use of all of their limbs.  Many people would have a hard time competing against an individual like Joey, so I was curious if he had any thoughts on that, and what he said definitely makes sense.

“I don’t care how my opponent feels about my situation.  I’m there to compete.  I just want the best match from them because they are going to get everything I have to give.”

Joey Bozik

There have been instances in which special competitions were put together for people with varying disabilities.  I was curious what Joey’s thoughts on these sorts of competitions are.  “That’s something that we promote here and through WeDefyFoundation.  We do not compete in disabled/handicapped tournaments.  Our goal is to not be treated any differently and to prove that the techniques work all the time in every situation.”

WeDefyFoundation is a 501c3 non-profit foundation started by Joey and backed by two BJJ black belts (Alan Shebaro being one of them).  Their focus is to bring the art of jiu jitsu and physical fitness back into the lives of mentally and physically disabled veterans.  More information can be found atWeDefyFoundation.org.

It is difficult to teach most people jiu jitsu, regardless of their physical condition; I was interested to learn about Alan’s process with Joey.

“Alan has been amazing. He has a great mind for jiu jitsu. We have had to work extra hard to look at existing techniques and the “style” of jiu jitsu we want to portray. A lot of failures. We work a technique and then I try it in rolling. If it works we keep it. If it doesn’t work for me we still keep it because someone in the future (through WeDefyFoundation) might have different limitations than I do.”  Joey and Alan are trying to build something that hasn’t been built before: a style of jiu jitsu modified specifically for people without use of all four of their limbs.


As for how this process has helped him, Joey had a simple answer “Jiu Jitsu has helped me in every aspect of my life. It has literally made me a better man, father, and disabled veteran. It has shown me a way to be the person I was before my injury, and how to continue to live my life as an amputee.”

We all make excuses, Joey is one of the few people who has plenty available to him but ignores them, instead pushing forward and cutting a new path with his jiu jitsu experience.

In closing, Joey had the following shout outs
“I want to thank Alan Shebaro for being the man who had enough passion and desire to look at me for more than just a project or a pity case. He saw a man who still wanted to be treated like man. Also I want to thank all the BJJ black belts that have helped to grow my game and all my fellow athletes who have trained and competed with me.”


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